Clicking around the web, I’ve noticed a lot of questions about the Nike+iPod Sport Kit popping up over and over again. While the answers to most of them can be found within this site, it sometimes takes a little digging. To help save you time, I’ve compiled a list of some of the most common Nike+iPod questions and answers below.
Do I need to buy the special Nike+ shoes to use the Nike+iPod Sport Kit?
No. The Nike+iPod can be used with any pair of running shoes. The only thing “special” about the Nike+ shoes is a small compartment in the shoe’s insole which holds the Nike+ sensor. As long as the sensor is properly and securely attached to your shoe, you will get the same results that you would with the Nike+ shoes.
How do I attach the Nike+iPod sensor to my shoe?
There are several methods for attaching the Nike+iPod sensor to your shoe, ranging from free do-it-yourself projects to moderately priced retail products specifically designed for the job. See my list of Nike+iPod Shoe Hacks and Accessories for details.
I don’t own an iPod nano. Can I use the Nike+iPod Sport Kit with my iPod video / iPod classic / iPod mini / iPod shuffle?
Nope. The Nike+iPod Sport Kit only works with the iPod nano at this time (1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation). It’s widely thought that because regular iPods use hard drives, which can freeze or skip if jostled, Apple doesn’t want to officially encourage people to run with them. The iPod shuffle doesn’t have a standard dock connector, which is required for attaching the Nike+iPod receiver. The iPod mini was discontinued before the Sport Kit was released, and probably won’t see a software update to make it compatible with the Sport Kit. Apple is in the business of selling new Pods, after all.
Does the Nike+iPod Sport Kit work with the iPhone or iPod Touch?
No. Even though the iPhone and iPod touch use flash memory (like the nano), Nike+iPod isn’t supported at this time.
How accurate is the Nike+iPod Sport Kit?
Surprisingly accurate. Results vary from person to person, but there’s rarely more than a couple hundredths of a mile difference on my three-mile run from day to day. Since the time and distance are being measured accurately, I can only assume that variations in my pace are being measured accurately, too.
At the Nike Store I was told that the Nike+iPod sensor is more accurate when used with Nike+ shoes. Is this true?
No. The Nike salespeople want to sell you Nike shoes, and they’re stretching the truth when they say this. It is true that if you attach the sensor to your shoes loosely or incorrectly, it will give you inaccurate results… but it’s pretty simple to do it the right way.
Isn’t is true that you need to step on the sensor for it to register your footsteps?
No, that’s a myth that started soon after the Sport Kit was announced. The sensor is not a pedometer, it’s an accelerometer which measures your foot in motion and at rest, and from those measurements it can calculate your stride, speed, and distance. A look inside the sensor suggests that it reads vibrations from your foot hitting the ground, but not from actually having any pressure applied to it.
I don’t run. Does the Nike+iPod Sport Kit work for walking, too?
Yes. The Nike+iPod Sport Kit measures walking as accurately as it measures running. There’s even a calibration setting especially for walking.
Can I use the Nike+iPod Sport Kit on a treadmill?
People report mixed results when using the Nike+iPod Sport Kit on a treadmill. Personally, I found it to be much less accurate than on solid ground. The difference between the treadmill mileage reading and the Sport Kit mileage was over 10%, which I don’t find to be very useful. One reason may be the difference in mechanics; On a treadmill, both feet are always moving – the one on the belt backward, and the one in the air forward – while your body remains stationary. When running on the ground, one foot remains stationary while your whole body moves forward.
Can I use the Nike+iPod Sport Kit on a bicycle or elliptical machine?
No. I have yet to find any reports of people getting accurate readings when on a bicycle or elliptical machine. One thing the sensor reads is the vibration produced when your foot hits the ground, which doesn’t happen when using either of these two contraptions.
I just went for my first run with my Nike+iPod Sport Kit, but the mileage results were way off. What’s wrong with this POS?
If you’re getting wildly inaccurate readings from your Nike+iPod Sport Kit, it’s probably due to one of these two things: 1) Your sensor isn’t attached to your shoe properly. The sensor needs to be logo-side up, relatively parallel with the ground, and positioned length-wise on your shoe. In addition, it needs to be attached tightly, with no room to move, shift, or bounce around during your run. If you’ve checked all of that and you’re still having the same problem, then 2) You have a defective Kit. Take it back to the Apple store and ask for an exchange. Apple has been very good about exchanging poorly functioning Sport Kits.
How can I improve the accuracy of my Nike+iPod Sport Kit?
The Sport Kit has a built-in calibration mode which helps to fine-tune the accuracy based on your individual running style. Here’s an in-depth guide to calibrating your Sport Kit.
This list is a work in progress. I’ll be adding to it regularly, so check back from time to time. If you have a question that you think should be addressed here, or have any feedback you’d like to share, feel free to post below.